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Commission: Italy free to "lump migrants together with prisoners" in complaints system
18.9.17
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The European Commission has said is up to the Member States to determine the national authority responsible for dealing with complaints about the activities of border guards working in Frontex operations, in response to a question from an MEP who asked whether it was right that Italy "lump migrants together with prisoners" by giving the role to the 'Italian Authority for the protection of the rights of people who are detained or deprived of liberty'.

Parliamentary question for written answer, 29 June 2017 from Massimo Paolucci (S&D group): Appointing a National Ombudsman and introducing a complaints mechanism for matters arising from the violation of fundamental rights during Frontex operations

Countries wishing to join the EU have to meet certain criteria, including having stable institutions which guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities.

The European Parliament has repeatedly emphasised that the appointment of an independent National Ombudsman with real powers over state and local authorities is one of those criteria.

In addition, Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 introduced a complaints mechanism for matters arising from the violation of fundamental rights during Frontex operations and the European Ombudsman has recommended that National Ombudsmen are the most appropriate authorities to deal with these complaints.

Italy, however, which does not have a National Ombudsman, seems to be moving towards making the Italian Authority for the protection of the rights of people who are detained or deprived of liberty responsible for enforcing the safeguards required by Regulation (EU) 2016/1624.

Does the Commission not think that this would merely serve to lump migrants together with prisoners, and that Italy should instead appoint a National Ombudsman and make that person responsible for enforcing the safeguards required by Regulation (EU) 2016/1624, as recommended by the European Ombudsman?

Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission, 14 September 2017

Pursuant to Article 72(7) of Regulation (EU) 2016/1624 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2016 on the European Border and Coast Guard, if a complaint is registered that concerns a border guard of a host Member State or a member of the teams, including a seconded member of the teams or seconded national expert, the home Member State shall ensure appropriate follow-up, including disciplinary measures as necessary or other measures in accordance with national law.

Consequently, it is for the Member States to designate the national authority to deal with complaints concerning their border guards.

Source: Parliamentary questions (European Parliament, link)

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